The earliest tracks in this area were established by miners and ranchers. Back in 1888 coal was found on what is now Coal Hill on the slopes of the family-run Guerin Ranch. In 1892 iron was found by a prospectors working for a syndicate in the hills to the west in what was then called the Ironmask Hills. In 1896, rich copper-gold ore was found at the Python Mine site (directly above Pineview Valley). This started a rush of prospecting and over 90 claims were filed on Coal Hill, the Ironmask Hills, Sugarloaf Hill, and Mount Dufferin. A few mines with names like Pothook (now Afton), Lucky Strike, Makaoo, Norma, Lockie, Smuggler and Chieftain each had a short life of activity in the hills.
The two largest mining operations that continued for many years were the Iron Mask Mine and the Python Mine. A few remains of the Iron Mask Mine can still be seen (on private property) just north of the Lac le Jeune Road close to the trailer park and at Galaxie Lake (a tailings pond) on the south side of the Ironmask Hills. The buildings and shafts of the Python Mine were still being mined a bit about 20 years ago, but the buildings have since been leveled and the shafts filled in. Some of the bike trails go right past the old mine site but most are unaware of the history.
At its height in 1913, the Ironmask site had several homes, a school, a hotel, and electrical power. Ore was shipped down the hill to the CPR line at the river.
The old roads that connected the mines to the small community on the north side are still there and they provide the main hiking corridors. The mountain biking community has added many single track trails over the hillsides now. We followed the main double track from a small parking area off the Lac le Jeune Road uo to the plateau, then looped back to the high point on Ironmask Hill.
At one point on the trail we have wide panoramic views of the valley below. There are many hiking trails (a map is provided below) which can be combined to make a loop. Our hike for this September day was 6.5 km
Although we have been hiking quietly in these hills for 40 years, the trails are mostly used by mountain bikers now. We choose to do these routes in shoulder season when there is no one around, a quiet hike in the forest among rocky hills.
- Pineview Trails (info)
- Kamloops Bike Riders – kpcc_pineview_kiosk_map_2017
- There are several articles on this website. Use the search terms Coal Hill or Ironmask.